South Africa has disclosed that it turned down a request from Zimbabwe for an emergency loan of $1.2bn (£932m) in December.
 
Treasury spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane said South Africa did not have "that kind of money".
 
Zimbabwe's government had hoped to use the cash injection to stabilise the ailing economy and resolve fuel shortages in the country.
 
Soon after the request was rejected, Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa was forced to announce a steep increase in the price of fuel - a move which has caused angry protests.
 
Police have violently repressed the protests that broke out mainly in the capital, Harare, and the southwestern city of Bulawayo, with some reports that they were conducting door-to-door searches and using of live ammunition.
 
Human rights groups say at least a dozen people have been killed, but there has been no official confirmation.
 
The UN called on the government to halt the "excessive use of force" by security forces.
 
President Mnangagwa tweeted that he was abandoning plans to attend the Davos economic summit and return home to deal with the crisis.
 
 
Source: BBC
 
Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe says the power utility is teetering on the brink of a debt trap.
 
He says that if the price of electricity is not increased over the next three years, the institution will struggle to improve its financial position.
 
The company wants to hike the price of electricity by 15% in each of the next three years.
 
Hadebe told energy regulator Nersa at the start of nationwide public hearings in Cape Town on Monday, that all South Africans have a role to play in getting the company back on its feet.
 
He says the power utility has initiated a number of cost-cutting measures, but they are not enough to turn the institution around.
 
Hadebe's acknowledged 15% hike in the electricity price will be steep for many South Africans and has apologised for load shedding and other problems.
 
But he says, Eskom's debt continues to grow from R380 billion at the beginning of last year to currently R419 billion.
 
“And we are very close to a debt trap. What does this mean to South Africans? It means everyone has a role to play to ensure the sustainability of this glorious institution.”
 
Hadebe has told the public hearing that despite fierce opposition to another electricity price hike, power in South Africa is still among the cheapest in sub-Saharan Africa.
 
 
Edited by Itohoimo Udosen )
 
 
The rand fell to a three-month low on Thursday but is slowly recovering against the dollar. Picture: iStock
The rand tumbled to its weakest in three months on Thursday, as emerging market currencies were hit by a wave of risk aversion as fears about global growth intensified.
 
At 9am the rand was 0.6 percent weaker at R14.55 to the dollar, recovering slightly after sliding to R14.89 in the overnight session, its weakest since October 9.
 
The rand was on the backfoot following weak factory data from China on Wednesday and saw losses deepen in tandem with a majority of global currencies after Apple said sales in China and other emerging markets fell last quarter.
 
Apple’s share price fell after chief executive Tim Cook warned shareholders that iPhone sales were slowing faster than expected. Cook said that the company did not foresee the magnitude of the “economic deceleration”, especially in China.
 
The news helped trigger a “flash crash” in currency markets, stoking nervousness about global growth already dampened by the ongoing trade wrangle between the United States and China.
 
Despite this early trade low, the rand gained momentum to trade 0.3% weaker against the dollar by midday. It sat at R14.50 to the dollar at the time.
 
The JSE All Share index, which suffered along with European and Asian stocks on Wednesday amid concerns around a possible slowdown in China, was up 0.8% by midday, with all major indices in positive territory.
 
The rand opened on Thursday at R14.46 to the dollar.
 
 
Source: City Express
Fly Modern Ark and Cerberus Capital Management – a consortium of local and international investors – have made an unsolicited loan offer to SAA to the tune of R21 billion in return for a 51% stake in the bankrupt airline.
 
In September, media reported that SAA would need R21 billion between then and 2021, when the airline is expected to return to profitability.
 
In his mid-term budget speech in October, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni had announced a R5 billion bailout for SAA.
 
Last month, SAA’s acting chief financial officer (CFO), Deon Fredericks, told Parliament that the airline would need a further R3.5 billion between then and end-March 2019.
 
On Saturday SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said lenders had agreed to advance a facility that would see the national carrier through to March next year.
 
In an email sent last week by Fly Modern Ark’s co-founder, Theunis Crous, to various stakeholders – including SAA chief executive Vuyani Jarana and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan – Crous confirms that talks regarding the funding were held between his team and airline officials.
 
“As indicated, our company – in partnership with local and international financiers – has engaged with Vuyani Jarana, [former interim CFO] Robert Head and [SAA treasury boss] Lucky Ncobela with regard to funding SAA in the short, medium and long term, which included the potential equity transaction related thereto.”
 
The department of public enterprises has said that SAA needs an equity partner, but has not revealed the size of the stake that it is willing to sell.
 
Crous’ email reads further: “The above discussions culminated in a teleconference with ourselves, our international partners ... These discussions were constructive and fruitful, and we were to engage after the minister of finance’s mid-term budget vote in October 2018.”
 
However, the email shows that following Head’s departure from SAA, the meeting did not happen.
 
Added Crous: “We are firmly of the view that we, as a consortium, would add intrinsic value to the turnaround strategy of SAA over and above the funding requirements.”
 
Gordhan acknowledged Crous’ correspondence via an email written by a person named Selatswa Masenya: “On behalf of Mr Pravin Gordhan ... I hereby acknowledge receipt of your correspondence ... the contents thereof have been noted and will be brought to the minister’s attention at the earliest opportunity.”
 
Crous told Press last week that SAA needed an equity partner.
 
“We are offering them R21 billion as a loan and we are prepared to take 51% and then plough in more money to recapitalise the business. SAA initially expressed an interest in the idea but later went quiet. Cerberus knows how to turn around companies.”
 
Tlali confirmed that a meeting with Fly Modern Ark had taken place in May at the airline’s head office in Kempton Park.
 
“Fly Modern Ark wanted an opportunity to present their capability, which they suggested could be beneficial to SAA’s turnaround strategy, including addressing our liquidity challenges. The discussion with Fly Modern Ark did not include any discussion regarding a strategic equity partner.”
 
He said the troubled airline was not involved in any bid to to find an equity party, adding that if that process did happen, it would be led by the government.
 
Tlali stressed that the discussions with Fly Modern Ark centred on funding, not the acquisition of a stake by the company. He denied that a teleconference took place.
 
Adrian Lackay, spokesperson for the public enterprises ministry, said government was currently not involved in talks to acquire potential partners.
 
“Acquiring an equity partner for SAA would require a significant capital injection from government upfront. For a commitment of this nature to take effect, it is essential that the company is first stabilised operationally in order for government as the shareholder to realise optimal value from a strategic equity partnership.”
 
The ministry, Lackay said, had received various unsolicited bids from companies wanting to acquire a stake in the airline.
 
“In terms of the Public Finance Management Act and the Constitution, such bids cannot arbitrarily be considered, entered into or accepted. It would have to follow due process.”
 
Lackay said that SAA, with government’s support, was working to raise sufficient funding to meet its immediate and medium-term liquidity requirements
 
 
Source: City Express
South Africa’s Competition Commission said on Thursday it had charged retailer Shoprite and its subsidiary Computicket with anti-competitive behaviour, and recommended a fine.
 
The commission said Shoprite and the event ticket seller had signed exclusive agreements that gave Computicket the ability to discriminate between large and small customers on prices.
 
The commission said the discrimination had forced third parties to engage with Computicket, excluding its competitors.
 
“The Commission has asked the Tribunal to impose an administrative penalty of 10 per cent of Computicket and Shoprite Checkers annual turnover,” the commission said in a statement in Johannesburg.
 
Shoprite was not immediately available to comment.
 
As a result, shares in the country’s biggest supermarket chain fell more than 4 per cent after the announcement, but had recovered to 183 rand, a decline of 1.84 per cent in early trading.
 
The case marks the second time the commission has referred Computicket to the Competition Tribunal, with a decision on similar charges.
 
This is the first time that Shoprite has been added as a respondent to the charges.
 
 
Source: PmNews

The top four positions are occupied by Seychelles, Mauritius, South Africa and Botswana with passport rankings of 27, 44, 57 and 58 respectively.

The 2018 Passport Index has placed the Ugandan passport in the 11th position in Africa and 64th among passports of 198 nations of the world.

Uganda and Morocco share a passport power rank of 65, but are below East African neighbours Kenya and Tanzania, who lie in the eighth and ninth positions with respective passport ranked 62 and 63. The global passport power ranking is arrived at based on an assessment of the visa restrictions or visa-free score.

Neighbouring Kenya

Kenya allows nationals of 39 countries to visit it without a visa and nationals of 32 other countries can obtain visas on arrival. It is nationals of 127 other countries of the world that require visas to visit Kenya.

Nationals of 42 countries do not require visas to visit Tanzania and those from another 28 countries can get the visas on arrival, while nationals of 128 nations require visas to enter the country.

Uganda is not doing as well as its two neighbours as citizens of 130 countries require visas to enter the country. It only allows nationals of 35 countries to visit without visas and gives nationals of 33 countries visas on arrival.

Top positions
The top four positions are occupied by Seychelles, Mauritius, South African and Botswana with passport rankings of 27, 44, 57 and 58 respectively.

  • At 133, Seychelles has the highest number of countries whose nationals it allows to enter its borders without visas. It also gives nationals of 33 nations visas on arrival and requires nationals from only 62 countries of the world to have visas.
  • Mauritius, which is in second place requires nationals of 66 countries to have visas, but allows nationals of 99 countries to visit without visas and gives nationals of 33 countries visas on arrival.
  • South Africa, which is in third place, requires nationals from at least 100 countries to first get visas before visiting, but is visa-free for nationals of 63 countries and gives nationals of 35 countries visas on arrival.
  • Botswana makes it incumbent upon nationals from 122 nations to have visas before visiting it, but is visa free for nationals of 46 countries and gives nationals of 28 nations visas on arrival.

The global ranking

Same position. In the global ranking, Uganda is tied with Morocco, the Philippines, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan.

Number one. The global rankings are led by the United Arab Emirates, which has a passport power rank of 2. UAE is visa-free for nationals of 113 nations and gives nationals of 54 countries visas on arrival. Only nationals of 31 countries are required to have visas before entering UAE.

Second place. Tied in second place are Germany and Singapore, which have a passport power rank of 3.

Visa free. Singapore is visa-free for nationals of 127 countries and gives nationals of 39 countries visas on arrival. Citizens of only 32 nations are required to have visas before visiting Singapore.

Visa exception. Germany on the other hand is visa-free for nationals of 126 nations and gives nationals of 40 nations visas on arrival. It is only nationals of 32 countries that are required to have visas.

 

Credit: nationmedia.com

Last week, some of its most ardent fans discovered that Carling Black Label is, in fact, originally Canadian.
This did not go down well. The beer has been around for almost a century in various markets. To the shock of some of its fans, the beer of the South African working man has been outed as Canadian on Twitter last week.
 
"The only black to succeed under apartheid is not even South African," a Twitter user lamented.
 
It's not clear why the beer's origins were suddenly a topic of discussion, but this much is certain: Carling Black Label was first brewed almost a century ago in Ontario by the Canadian Carling brewery.
 
Originally known as Black & White Lager, in the 1920s it was rebranded as Black Label, and distributed in the US and UK.
 
The beer – affectionately known here as Zamalek - was introduced in South Africa in the late 1960s by SA Breweries, which bought the rights to brew it in South Africa. 
 
Over the decades, SAB launched various macho campaigns – many featured cowboys - to associate it with hard work and masculinity.
 
Its strongman image was fortified by its high alcohol level – 5.5%, compared to Castle (5%) and Hansa Pilsener (4.5%).
 
The name Zamalek dates back to the 1990s, when an Egyptian football club – which shares the beer label’s colours of black, white and red – thoroughly trounced local soccer team Kaiser Chiefs. According to Urban Dictionary, local fans then claimed that the Zamalek club was as strong as Carling Black Label.
 
The lager is described by SAB as having  “a spicy hoppiness complemented by lightly kilned malted barley”.
 
Most recently, Carling Black Label has backed down from its ultra-masculine advertising with a large campaign to stop gender violence.
 
Carling Black Label, owned by the US group Molson Coors, is still available in Canada and the US. But there is no business link with the South African beer, says Grant Lake, brand manager of Carling Black Label Africa. 
 
Carling (which has an alcohol level below 4%) - which also originated from the Canadian Carling Black Label brand - is one of the most popular lagers in the UK.
 
 
Source: The EaglesNews
In truth, the currency started from a very low base: the Nenegate crisis in 2015.
Its performance this year has not been stellar, but most experts expect it to remain below R15/$ in 2019.
Over the past three years, the rand has been the world's strongest major currency against the dollar.
 
The rand has strengthened by almost 6.3% against the dollar since mid-December 2015, according to data compiled by the independent analyst Johann Biermann. By comparison, the Mexican peso weakened by more than 16% and the Turkish lira lost an almighty 79% of its value. The UK pound fell almost 20% over the past three years as Brexit fears wreaked havoc.
 
Only the Russian rouble, which gained by 6% over this time,  the euro (+3%) and the yen (+6.2%) could keep up with the rand.
 
It is of course worth noting that three years ago the rand was in a very bad state amid the Nenegate crisis.
 
On December 9th 2015, former president Jacob Zuma fired then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, replacing him with back-bencher Des van Rooyen. 
 
"After all is said and done, the rand has been one of the strongest currencies over the last three years - obviously benefiting from the low base created by Nenegate," Biermann said this week. "Still, not many would've predicted that the rand would outperform these majors in years to come."
 
Unfortunately, 2018 has been tough on the local currency: the rand has lost a painful 14.5% of its value against the dollar - on par with the rouble (-15%) and the Brazilian real (-17%). Even traditionally stable currencies - including the Australian dollar (-8%) and the euro (-6%) - took a hit.
 
The rand/dollar rate over the past five years. (So
The dollar/rand rate over the past five years. (Source: XE)
But most currency experts are not expecting the rand to take a massive hit in 2019.
 
The currency is expected to end 2019 between R12 to R15 a dollar, according to almost 70% of the 160 South African-based bankers, CEOs, CFOs, corporate treasurers as well as foreign exchange and hedge fund executives polled at the Bloomberg Foreign Exchange Summit last week. 
 
The rand will probably trade near R13.40 to the dollar by the end of next year, Standard Bank economist Elna Moolman said, according to a press report.
 
"The expectation is partly based on a dollar story, but also on the assumption that we will see political and policy improvements to support a stronger currency."  
 
Moolman said the next big local events that could influence the rand are the Budget in February, the response from Moody’s (the only agency that has not yet rated South Africa as "junk") and then the natonal elections, expected in May 2019.
 
If the US economy weakens and/or the equity markets fall apart, which means that the Fed won’t hike interest rates by as much as expected, the rand may benefit, according to Biermann.
 
“Also, sentiment towards emerging markets has been very negative in 2018. If it starts to turn, the rand will get a boost."
 
But there are risks – chief among them, Eskom’s R100 billion debt burden.
 
“If government took over the debt, our credit rating will be further downgraded – which will be negative for the rand.”
 
Ratings agencies have also been clear that further slippage in terms of property rights could prompt downgrades, Biermann said. 
 
 
Source: Bloomberg news 
Marlboro cigarette maker Altria's $1.8 billion investment in the cannabis producer Cronos is a win-win, according to an analyst. 
 
"Cronos provides Altria a unique entry into cannabis and we do not think Altria is taking on outsized risk while entering a new high-growth category," Vivien Azer, an analyst at Cowen, said in a note out on Monday.
 
Cronos has a relatively smaller cultivation capacity than most of the other major Canadian cannabis producers, but a higher efficient operating line, Azer says. While Cronos's revenue over the last 12 months - $12 million sales  - ranked only the sixth among major Canadian marijuana producers, its gross margin ranked second.
 
"Cronos has been judicious with capital, and has embraced an asset light model that does not prioritise cultivation (consistent with tobacco)," Azer noted. "Their business model is less capital focused and more reliant on sourcing cannabis from local farmers, similar to tobacco companies."
 
Moreover, Cronos' focus on rare cannabinoids is a point of differentiation for Altria, Azer said.
 
"While the potential uses of cannabinoids are vast, Cronos believes the key to successfully bringing cannabinoid-based products to market is in creating reliable, consistent and scalable production of a full spectrum of the ~100 cannabinoids, not just THC and CBD," which are the two primary cannabinoids that occur naturally in the Cannabis, she added.
 
Azer believes Cronos can leverage Altria's expertise to create value-added form factors while focusing on ingredient composition without reliance on a massive cultivation infrastructure.
 
Azer has an "outperform" rating and a $74 price target for Altria - a 40% premium to where shares are trading on Monday.
 
Altria was down 24% this year.
 
 
Source: Business linking
Several South African liquor outlets are apparently running out of Castle Lager beer, as a shortage of bottles affected production.
 
Refilwe Masemola, South African Breweries director of external communications, said a shortage of reusable bottles has slowed the production process. There have been delays in returning these bottles to SAB, Masemola said, without giving more details.
 
“Our production teams are [however] hard at work to ensure that those outlets that may be affected are well stocked over the coming days,” Masemola told Business Insider South Africa. 
 
“We are in fact ahead of our production schedule, which should bring some comfort to our customers.” 
 
Castle Lager is one of South Africa’s most consumed beers and was for the first time named the 25th most valuable beer brand in the world in 2018. 
 
South Africa is, on average, one of the world’s highest liquor consumers, and consumption tends to increase considerably over the festive season.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
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